5 Top Jobs for Computer Science Graduates

As another academic year nears a close and a fresh crop of computer science graduates plunges into the job market, it’s the right time to ask a simple question: Where can they find the best opportunities?

graduateFirst things first. Who are we are talking about?

“When I think about CS grads, I think about people who will be writing code or programming in one of the primary languages or building a product or application,” says Steve Kasmouski, President of Search at WinterWyman, a leading tech recruiter. “People who graduate with a CS degree typically don’t go into fields such as database administration or network administration.”

Software Architecture and Development

Keeping that in mind, many observers say software architecture and development is the only truly hot job for CS graduates.

Patrick O’Rourke, HR and Organizational Development Coordinator at IT consulting firm SWC Technology Partners in Oak Brook, Ill., thinks those jobs are in C# development, SQL development, and Web development in HTML5, CSS3 and JQuery.

Bryant Salcedo, Senior Technical Recruiter at Ettain Group, agrees that programmers are desperately needed. “It’s tough to find the talent. Fewer than 2 percent of these types of experts are unemployed, so they’re all in great demand, even CS majors just coming out of school.”

Salcedo lists .NET development, Java, JavaScript, C#, C++, HTML5 and ASP.NET as particularly in-demand skills. For new graduates, his advice is:

“Look for short-term contract positions as a great way to get your feet wet and accumulate experience quickly. Your parents may be urging you to go for stability and benefits, but contract jobs are the best way to beef up your resume right out of school. Worry about building your skills, not about looking for stability.” Also, he notes, contract jobs can be lucrative. “You get paid for every hour you work.”

Mobile Application Development

Of the technology-related jobs that the Bureau of Labor and Statistics identifies as having the most growth potential over the next 10 years, mobile application development rises to the top, with 292,000 more jobs expected over the decade. Last year, the skill posted a 131 percent growth in jobs.

“That’s one of the hottest areas in terms of growth, and it includes apps, games, commerce and the mobile enablement of enterprises,” Salcedo says. There’s more growth to come. “There is still an awful lot of work to be done to build e-commerce apps that scale to new levels or monetize transactions on the Web that haven’t yet been monetized.”

Big Data Analytics

This is another area poised for dramatic growth.

“There are huge opportunities,” Kasmouski says. “It’s applied math and statistics, and some of the top candidates have Ph.Ds in math. It’s those people who write the actual algorithms and then hand them to programmers to implement in Java, C# or C++,” he explains. “Ideally, I’d find someone who has an undergrad degree in computer science and a graduate degree in math, or vice versa.”

Healthcare IT

Whatever your focus, Salcedo says it’s wise to consider pursuing related jobs in healthcare, which is going through a technology boom as providers race to meet government deadlines for electronic medical records. Application development, big data analytics and cloud computing technologies all play a part. Take a few months to learn the health-care lingo and environment, perhaps by looking for contract jobs in the field, and “you’ll find jobs left and right.”

Video Game Design

But if health care doesn’t interest you for the long haul, you can always try your hand at something more creative, like video-game design. Over the next 10 years, the BLS predicts 30 percent job growth in the area, with 270,900 new positions being added.

16 Responses to “5 Top Jobs for Computer Science Graduates”

  1. Yeah, video games and apps. Oh and web pages. Whoopee. Got a CS degree for that.
    Contracting for those with zero job experience? Uh, contracting is a tough profession. Get 10 years experience first. Yeah, you get paid hourly, BUT you need to be productive for EVERY hour you bill, starting with hour number 1. Plus you have to cover all your own benefits and marketing costs and other expenses (parking, printing, and HW/SW, travel, etc.) as well as setting aside something for unemployed time between contracts. You may also need to cover payroll taxes.
    If you mean short term temp work, then that’s another way to get nowhere. The other suggestions were good, IF you can get into them…as a newly minted grad. Good luck all.

    • From the contract positions i see in my inbox, it seems one is supposed to be skilled, with a couple of years experience. Not sure where a recent grad would get these skills.

      • Well, I’m approaching two years out of school, never having worked in tech.

        You’re right that contract positions are even more demanding WRT hard skills and experience than full-time jobs (which are no cakewalk themselves). Look at it logically: if you’re going to bring someone in for a 6-week contract, you don’t have four weeks, or even one, to train them. Contractors are expected to be experts; they’re expected to know exactly what they’re doing, with no training. It’s no different than you or I calling a plumber to fix a sink. I’m paying the plumber for his expertise, not so he can “build skills.” I don’t want to pay for him to build skills. I just want my sink fixed.

    • Mark Feffer

      @Factchecker: The number Bryant Salcedo cites isn’t only about CS grads. He’s talki8ng about experts such as programmers, overall, including but not limited to CS grads.



    • Yeah, he’s talking about top-shelf experts, people who are just absolutely brilliant. Think people with the skills of Howard Finch on “Person of Interest,” or McGee on “NCIS.”

      Let’s be realistic: (1) real people on that level represent probably 1% or less of the total population and (2) if you are that brilliant, you don’t need to go work for anyone. In fact, it would be stupid of you to go work for somebody else. Why go work for $14/hour, or even $20 or $30…when you’ve got the skills to make MILLIONS by building and marketing your own products?

      With that in mind, I believe that particular statistic.

  2. I get a lot of emails from recruiters for 6-month contracts. Do a lot of people uproot their lives for a 6-month contract, in, say, Rochester, NY for example? Doesn’t matter, I was just wondering. I have worked contract before though, once, for Lockheed Martin in Houston. It was a project for the space station, more embedded systems than just programming. I learned a lot about thermal vacuum testing on that particular job.

    • Yes, Fonzie, people do uproot their lives for that. First, 6 months isn’t that long and you never know when the job will turn out to be much longer (or in fact much shorter…companies are bought/sold and managers change and they change their plans or budgets continually). That is why contracting can pay well…when you are working. But it is a hard life and you must be constantly on your toes… which is why it is inappropriate for new grads. If the article was talking about 1 month or 1 week jobs as contract work, then employers may not care how green, and perhaps unproductive someone may be… but are they really going to list a 3 day or even 3 month job to ‘beef up’ a resume?

      The other strange comment in the article is:
      “People who graduate with a CS degree typically don’t go into fields such as database administration or network administration.” Yet the recommendation is to go into Big Data, Cloud Computing, or health care IT (which can have large databases)…. all of which need DBAs or network admins. Another reason the article doesn’t make much sense.

  3. snow white

    Finally an article that give me positive outlook toward life. Seriously, everywhere I see on the internet, it’s always something like “Computer Science is pseudoscience, worthless, blah blah blah”. But now I kinda feel like I’m a little bit lighten up. I’ll probably go freelance for a while then set up my own business because I can’t understand how I should follow the fad over and over again. It’s exhausting to adapt and learn to new language, new technology, new gadget and stuffs. I may be survive when I’m still young, but I’m not sure when I’m above 40 I will be able to learn new stuff or follow newest trend so quickly.

    • Snow White, If you have a passion for the field you will be able to learn and keep up, even after 40.
      The more you learn about technology the easier acquiring more knowledge becomes.